Posts by Lily Oberman

King Khan (real name Arish Ahmad Khan, who also used to go by the stage name Blacksnake) and BBQ (Mark Sultan, one of Khan’s bandmates from The Spaceshits) sadly parted ways in 2010, but they managed to release three solid albums full of raucous, silly garage music before that. “Too Much in Love” comes off of the duo’s 2006 LP What’s for Dinner? and features Khan on vocals and lead guitar and BBQ on drums, tambourine and backing vocals.

King Khan, who was selected as Impose Magazine’s “Best Performer of 2008,” has a deranged, dirty stage presence and has been known to wear ridiculous outfits and get nearly naked on stage—when I saw him in 2008 on the King Khan and the Shrines/Black Lips tour, he spat chewed-up banana and proudly mooned the audience. He collaborated with GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan in 2009 and currently records with The Tandoori Knights and The Black Jaspers. Mark Sultan has also released a series of recordings under his own name, most recently 2011′s dual Whatever I Want and Whenever I Want album releases and his live album, The War on Rock ‘n Roll, put out on LP by In The Red Records last month.

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Today’s Track of the Day comes from Washington-based twee band Beat Happening. “You Turn Me On” comes off their 1992 K Records release Turn Me On, which was the band’s last official release, although they have not officially disbanded—they haven’t performed together since the ’90s and declined an invitation to perform at the music festival All Tomorrow’s Parties in 2005, although they did release a 7-inch in 2001. Vocalist and guitarist Calvin Johnson, a mainstay in the Northwest music scene, was a member of The Go Team (along with Bikini Kill‘s Tobi Vail) before forming Beat Happening. Johnson went on to form the funk band Dub Narcotic Sound System, collaborating with spoken word artists like Miranda July and Lois Moffeo (of the band Courtney Love), until the band was involved in a car accident in 2003 that left Johnson badly injured. Heather Lewis, Beat Happening’s other vocalist, performed guest vocals on The Wedding Present‘s album Watusi, while Bret Lunsford, the third member of the group, took his life in a non-musical direction, authoring the book Croatian Fishing Families of Anacortes.

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Ron and Russell Mael got their musical start in the band Halfnelson, along with another pair of brothers, Earle and Jim Mackey. Halfnelson’s debut was produced by Todd Rundgren, but it failed to garner much attention. The group’s label decided that the band needed to change their name, because Halfnelson was too “sportscentric,” and thus Sparks was born. The Mackeys and the Maels parted ways, so today Sparks consists of just Russell, who provides vocals; and Ron, who writes the songs, plays keyboards and looks generally frightening.

“Perfume” comes off of the brothers’ 2006 album Hello Young Lovers, and they’ve released two more since then. Their musical style has changed pretty drastically over the 40+ years they’ve been together, and their prolific output since then can seem a little intimidating to the new listener. To get a good sense of their different styles, check out 1974′s Kimono My House, 1982′s Angst in My Pants, and 1994′s Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins.

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Since making it the subject of one of our DJ meetings a few weeks ago, some of us at The Rock Show have been pretty into the music of New Zealand. Peter Jefferies hails from New Plymouth, on the west coast of the country’s North Island, and, along with his brother Graeme, was a part of the post-punk group Nocturnal Projections and rock outfit This Kind of Punishment. In addition to releasing a ton of solo work, Jefferies collaborated with many artists, including Robbie Muir and Shayne Carter. “Piano (One)” comes off At Swim 2 Birds, Jefferies’ joint effort with the Glenn Moffatt Band’s Jono Lonie that was originally released in 1987 on New Zealand’s Flying Nun label. Jefferies plays the keyboard on this track while Lonie provides the guitar and strings. The whole album, which is entirely instrumental, is worth a listen (or two, or five, or ten).

Jefferies continued to release solo work up until 2001, and anther project of his, 2 Foot Flame, released two albums on Matador in the ’90s, all of which are worth listening to if you liked today’s track.

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Dave Wakeling, vocalist for The Beat (or The English Beat, as they were called in the U.S. to avoid confusion with another group), supposedly said that every good band only has three really good albums—so The Beat released exactly three LPs before breaking up in 1983. Today’s Track of the Day, “Mirror in the Bathroom,” comes off of their 1980 debut album I Just Can’t Stop It, which was put out by IRS Records in the US. Saxa, the group’s then-50-year-old saxophonist (making him at least 20 years older than the rest of his fellow band members), features prominently on this track, building on his earlier work with Jamaican ska/rocksteady artists like Prince Buster and Desmond Dekker. Second vocalist Ranking Roger mostly does backing vocals here, but you can hear him on this fun mix of The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” (performed at the request of Clash guitarist Mick Jones).

Wakeling and Ranking Roger would go on to join forces with Jones and Horace Panter of The Specials to create the band General Public, while guitarist Andy Cox and bassist David Steele formed Fine Young Cannibals. Here’s where it gets confusing, though: The Beat reunited in 2005 with Ranking Roger and drummer Everett Morton at the helm along with Ranking Roger’s son, Ranking Junior, but Wakeling would form a different reunion group in 2009 known officially as The English Beat. Both versions of the group have gone on tour, but neither has released anything officially.

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